The 2019 edition of the prestigious African Banker Awards was held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea in June. These annual awards have become the benchmark of all that is best in the African banking and finance industry.
Development institutions were the toast of the night as Afreximbank won the Bank of the Year award and the Trade and Development Bank's President, Ethiopian Admassu Tadesse, received the Banker of the Year accolade.
The annual African Banker Awards, which celebrate individual and institutional excellence in Africa's financial sector, have become a highlight of the African Development Bank's traditional AGM activities, whether these arc held in Africa or elsewhere.
The thematic spotlight this year was the need to spread mainstream services to larger segments of the population, as the level of financial inclusion in Africa is still well below the global average. (lender parity at senior management level is also lagging behind, although there has been considerable positive movement in this direction over the past decade.
Both these issues were referred to by the two main sponsors of the awards, the African Guarantee Fund and the Bank of Industry, which have created several innovative instruments and mechanisms to lend to the often marginalised SME sector. (See African Banker magazine, Q2 2019.)
The African Banker of the Year, Admassu Tadesse, has overseen the remarkable growth of the Trade and Development Bank (TDB). It has grown its portfolio five-fold since he took over as president in 2012.
TDB, formerly the PTA Bank, is the financial arm of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It has 22 members from across the COMES A region as well as the East African Community and SADC. It also has two non-regional members--China and Belarus.
The profile of the Bank of the Year, Afreximbank, has grown exponentially over the past decade and it is now one of a handful of major international development finance institutions operating in the African space.
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award went to former FirstRand Group CEO, South African Sizwe Nxasana. Under his leadership, the bank grew at a compound annual growth rate of 20%. In his acceptance speech, he called for even greater investment in human capital to spur growth in Africa.
The African Banker Icon went to Mitchell Elegbe, founder of Interswitch, the payments service provider. His company is predicted to become Africa's first unicorn--a tech...